George R.R. Martin might not have released The Winds of Winter in 2018, but this didn't stop him from hitting the bestseller list. His latest book, a 700-page history of the Targaryen Dynasty entitled Fire & Blood, the first of a planned two-part series, hit Number One on the New York Times Bestseller List in the US and Number One on The Times Bestseller List in the UK. One of the big reason behind the book's success the tiny hints of how A Song of Ice & Fire might end, including a new Game Of Thrones theory about Gendry, based in the history of the Baratheon clan.
One of Martin's favorite themes in A Song of Ice & Fire is how many hidden facts are embedded in long forgotten histories. Most Westerosi citizens have no idea why the Wall exists anymore, and little curiosity to ask why it exists at all, even those up north who live in its shadow. Most southron people think of it as a prison camp, and not something once built by the greatest of their generation to keep them safe.
Even something as recent as the history of Rhaegar and Lyanna has already turned into myths and legends, as those who lived through it obfuscate the truth, and the next generation doesn't question what really happened.
Naturally, Fire & Blood is filled with historical tidbits like this. For instance, the book reveals the founder of House Baratheon, Orys Baratheon, was not only a bastard but a Targaryen byblow. He was the half-brother to Aegon I Targaryen, who conquered Westeros. Suddenly, Aegon allowing Orys to rule Storm's End after House Durrandon was eradicated in the conquest takes on a new significance. Also, when Robert Baratheon slew Rhaegar Targaryen, he killed his own cousin.
But he's not the only bastard who made a name for himself in history. Martin also introduces Hugh the Hammer, a bastard blacksmith, and another Targaryen byblow who rose to fame for his prowess in battle. Hugh apparently believed he was the subject of an ancient prophecy:
When the hammer shall fall upon the dragon, a new king shall arise, and none shall stand before him.
Fans are already racing to put two and two together. House Baratheon is currently defunct with no trueborn heir to claim the Stormlands. But since the Baratheon line was founded by a bastard anyway, Gendry, Robert's own byblow, could be the perfect candidate.
As for the prophecy of a man who will one day wield a hammer and take out a dragon, it's still out there, unfulfilled. Even though many interpreted it to mean Hugh the Hammer, prophecies, as Martin likes to remind us, don't always work the way those who hear it assume. Gendry, as a direct descendant of Orys, has Targaryen blood in him. Could he be fated to kill the Night King's new ride?
Will Gendry pull a Neville Longbottom and be the one to slay the Ice Dragon in Game of Thrones Season 8's final battle? Fans will find out when the show returns in April of 2019.